|Me on main street at the Magic Kingdom in Disney World, Orlando, Florida, "The Happiest Place on Earth"|
Hey folks, it's been a while since I've taken you on a trip down Memory Lane. Well, here goes again. While looking through my thousands of photos for a particular photo that I wanted to post to my blog today I came across my photos for my trip in 2001 to Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
|The entrance to the Doubletree Hotel guest suites were we stayed - we each had our own rooms! I only share rooms with men - nothing personal Aunt Mabel|
The recent tragic events at Orlando, Florida brought back memories of the first and only time I visited Orlando, Florida.
|The really grand hotel where we stayed - like royalty!|
Way back in the year 2000 I was awarded Best Guest Service Representative for my work at the Hampton Inn in Exton, Pennsylvania. I didn't think I did anything extra ordinary but my boss felt that me coming in during Hurricane Floyd was worthy of note. Oh how well I remember going to work during that hurricane, dodging downed live power lines that were dancing on the wind and rain soaked streets, encountering one flooded detour after another and almost narrowly missing getting my car flooded and floating down the street, only to arrive at the hotel that had no power. She put me in for the very prestigious award unbeknownst to me.
|The beautiful landscaping around the Doubletree Hotel where we stayed - egrets roamed around common as Philadelphia pigeons|
A month later I was informed by phone from the vice president of the Hilton Hotel Corp that I was selected as one of their best guest service representatives. My reward was an all expense paid four day trip to Disney World ("I'm going to Disney World!") in Orlando, Florida. In addition to the all expense trip I received $500 and a plaque with my name on it as "Best Guest Service Representative" for the year 2000 (so long ago now isn't it?)
|The walkway around the Doubletree where we stayed - I LOVED IT!|
|My dear Aunt Mabel - always happy!|
Another thing I remember was the two brothers who befriended me. They were from Jordan. The heavier brother managed Fess Parker's ("Davy Crockett! Davey Crockett" for those of you old enough to remember) in Santa Barbara, California.
Unfortunately I don't remember their name but I do remember that they were both very Middle Eastern. And I remember very clearly the one brother who was the manager who was very friendly with me. Perhaps too friendly but hey, I was by myself (my aunt stayed in her hotel room most of the time due to her physical limitations only came out for the evening functions the the luau at the hotel)
|Aunt Mable at the luau|
and the awards ceremony at the Epcot Center where I received my award along with other winners from across the United States.
|Me receiving my award at the Epcot Center from the vice president of the Hilton Hotels|
By the way, posting these pictures I am now filled with regret that I didn't have an iPhone back then when I could have taken videos! I'm veering off subject here again but could you imagine the photos and videos I would have now if I had an iPhone when I was growing up? Literally millions! So maybe it's a good thing I didn't have one and only my Kodak camera with black and white photos, eight to a roll that took a week to process. Talk about ancient times. But back to my adventure in Disney World.
|Me and my Aunt Mable at the Epcot Center during the awards ceremony - I have to admit that the Hilton Hotel Corp treated us like royalty. I LOVED IT!|
So here I am "palling around" with two Middle Eastern types during my four day stay in Disney World. This was in April 2001, six months before 9/11. But you know folks, even back then I was a little bit uncomfortable with these guys. The one guy (whose name I just cannot remember but it was a Muslim name like "Fareed" or something like that) was, as I said very friendly. His brother, not so much so. But we made the rounds. On the Merry-go-round.
|Me and "Fareed" on the Merry-go-round in Disney World - 2000|
Not a long line to get on that ride.
We took the river boat cruise to "Pirate's Island." What I remember about that was how murky the water was and the only "pirates" we saw were mechanical, very fake looking.
|"Fareed" and his brother on the Pirate's river boat ride - we didn't see any crocodiles - wait! Yes, we did see one!|
I thought at least they could have Johnny Depp, aka "Capt. Jack Sparrow", make an appearance. HA! Dream on Ron.
|Me on the "Pirates" cruise - I still have that T-shirt and pants - hat is long gone - looking at these pictures I do get around don't I for someone who hasn't traveled much during his lifetime|
We also did the roller coaster ride through the mountain thing. That was sort of interesting being jerked around in total darkness (get you mind out of the gutter).
Did we meet Mickey? You bet! But I didn't meet Goofy, who is my favorite Disney character.
|Me, Mickey Mouse and Aunt Mable - we made it!|
Another thing I remember clearly was how humid it was during our stay. I couldn't live in a climate like that all the time folks, just couldn't do it.
But all in all it was a wonderful trip. Disney World was everything it is hyped up to be. One thing that amazed me but probably should have, was the diversity of the folks who throng the streets of the Magic Kingdom.
|A typical day on Main Street in Disney World. hardly any elbow room|
So many people from different countries. I heard a report that the Orlando gunman had originally targeted Disney World for his murderous carnage spree but decided against it because security was too tight. Can you imagine? Thank God that didn't happen.
I probably will never go back to Disney World again but I am so thankful that my manager was appreciative of my efforts at the hotel she managed. She will always be a gem in my mind. I don't know where she is now but her name was Beth Mancini and I wish her and her family nothing but the best. Maybe she'll read this blog posting and know how thankful I am.
|The Hampton Inn Team, Exton, PA 2001 (I'm standing to the right of Beth Mancini)|
I worked at the Hampton Inn for almost four years. I left a few months after 9/11 due to a dispute with the new assistant manager, the details of which I will not go into at this time.
|Beth Mancini at her desk - one of the best bosses I ever had!|
Even though I left under unpleasant circumstances I will always have fond memories of my time at the Hampton Inn and working for Beth, my co-workers (except for that one person) and the guests.
|Linda West (sales director), one of the owners of the Hampton Inn and Beth Mancini 2001 - great people!|
Working for a hotel is and has always been fascinating, though at times frustrating.
To this day I still work as a guest service represent (or "agent" as we call the front desk clerk now, all so politically correct don't you know). I won't be winning any trips to Disney World these days folks but you know what? Every day is like a vacation day to me now, every day.
Maybe someday in the future, when I'm wasting away in an assisted care facility (God, I hope not) or as a lonely old man, I will remember these days as the Glory Days. You never know. But I will never forget that trip to Disney World in Orlando Florida during that magical time pre 9/11.
|I always manage to find a "passive friend" whenever I'm on one of my adventures|